October Home Ed fun in Taunton

We are so delighted for our fellow home edder, endurance swimmer Beth French, who this month completed one of her Oceans 7 swims despite being really unwell! She swam for 21 miles (19 hrs) across the channel between Catalina island and the San Pedro peninsula in the USA. This is part of her amazing Oceans 7 challenge in which she will become the first person to do 7 hugely challenging channel swims in just one year - 1 down 6 to go. Bravo Beth!!!!

Lots of our members have been itching to learn British Sign Language so Kelly got in touch with Coralie a home educated young woman who is going to do Deaf Studies at Uni and arranged for her to come and teach both parents and kids. We are absolutely loving it! We have learned the alphabet, our numbers and we can ask each other our names, say where we live, how old we are, what are interests are and how long we’ve been doing them, what things we like studying or learning about. Coralie is a brilliant BSL tutor.

We managed to pull together the second edition of our art/literary magazine ‘Free Spirit’ this month – you can download it from the publications section. We have some amazing stories, poems and artwork – check it out!!

In our Art classes the kids have produced some amazing abstract art inspired by painter Clare Wardman and have been introduced to:

* young Mexican artist, Esau Andrade who is increasingly being recognised as a master artist in the tradition of some of the greatest Latino painters and produced some vibrant traditional Mexican style paintings of their own,

*Japanese artist and writer Yayoi Kusama who was a big influence on Andy Warhol and whose work involves lots of psychedelic colours, repetition and pattern,

*Jan Vermeer, a Dutch Baroque painter who specialized in exquisite, domestic interior scenes of middle class life.

In Science this month we did some work on DNA and genetics. We extracted our own DNA, made our own designer dogs and learned about the four chemicals in DNA - Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine and Thymine which always go in pairs (C goes with G, A with T). We made models of DNA using pipecleaners and beads and did a cool exercise to understand how our body makes new DNA.

Next we did some hands-on psychology! The kids looked at some cool psychological tricks and quirks and succeeded in tricking their brains and senses. Cress got them to taste two sugarless soft drinks– to the kids they tasted really different so imagine their surprise when Cress told them they were the same drink just a different colour! The brain is easily confused! They also learned that if you stare at something for long enough your sight receptors turn off! Likewise it is really easy to trick your sense receptors as we discovered when we did an experiment sniffing pots of cocoa, chilli powder etc. The kids really enjoyed using the scientific method to conduct an experiment using cocktail sticks to find out which parts of our body are the most sensitive (we tested back, arm, leg, foot etc) – the data they harvested can be put into this really cool online programme so you can make your own ‘Sensory Homunculus’ which makes the really sensitive parts of your body bigger.

For our Cookability class at Venetia’s this month the kids were transported to the Mediterranean. They learned about typical ingredients used across Mediterranean countries (did you know tomatoes are really good for your eyesight??) and of course the all important herbs basil, mind, thyme, parsley and oregano. The kids made the traditional Greek dish Tzatziki (made with yoghurt, cucumber and mint), a delicious tomato sauce and lentil or mince meatballs spiced with oregano, parsley and thyme. For pudding they made strawberry tiramisu with mascarpone and amaretto biscuits.

The HE Drama group run by Karen spent October busily rehearsing for the production of Peter Pan due to be performed towards the end of November. The script is finalised, 25 children have been given their roles, sword fighting tutorials are underway, parents are busily making sets and costumes and dance routines are being mastered. Can’t wait to see the performance!!

Towards the end of the month we marked Diwali. Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights - it marks the New Year and celebrates the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance. Lakshmi the Goddess of wealth, prosperity and fortune is one of the Gods honoured – people put diyas all over their house to welcome her in. There are five days of celebrations involving dressing up in your best clothes, lighting diyas, making rangolis at the entrance to your home to welcome Lakshmi, exchanging presents, fireworks, making sweets and feasting. It is a time of joy and peace and fun! Sikhs and people of other religions celebrate across India and around the world.

We made our own rangolis and diyas and people came up with some fabulous Mehndi (Henna) designs. We also sewed some gorgeous elephant cushions and cooked up samosas, Mango Lassi and doodh peda (a traditional Diwali sweet). We were actually visited by Lakshmi who left gold for the kids to find hidden around the garden and also left us a big pot of a bespoke Taunton Home Ed Curry made with lots of different vegetables, spices and lentils. At the end of the day we of course had sparklers in the garden.

Finally we are busy now thinking about how we will decorate our Christmas Tree for the Brewhouse’s “Global Forest”. To tie in with the production of Around the World in 80 days the theatre is getting in loads of real Christmas trees and has invited local primary schools and home ed groups to decorate their own tree in the style of their country of choice. We are going to make decorations that reflect the eccentric, eclectic nation that is England!


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